Tag Archives: mlb playoffs

What Would Stern Do? – MLB Edition

Uh oh, the Yankees are on the brink of elimination tonight. To make matters worse, they’re sending AJ Burnett to the mound. Fortunately Major League Baseball is the least corrupt of the professional sports leagues. I can’t help but wonder, though, if NBA Commissioner David Stern was running MLB. First, they wouldn’t even be in this predicament in the first place. Why? Because the Red Sox would be in the playoffs right now. Remember that wild, amazing 162nd night of baseball we all had last Wednesday night? It never would’ve happened in the NBA since Stern would have made sure all the dollar signs associated with the Red Sox got in rather than the one dollar sign next to the Tampa Bay Rays. However, put in the position MLB is now, with the Yankees on the brink of elimination, and I know the NBA front office would be going crazy. We’d be in store for some of the worst umpiring ever witnessed tonight (we still may be). Here are some measures I would put in place tonight if I were David Stern (besides jumping in front of a train for the greater good of humanity)….

  • AJ Burnet suspended for insert prior incident here – This is quite simple. Dig up some prior incident on Burnett’s criminal record – surely he has one – and have someone close to the situation go public with it. There has to be an ex-girlfriend out there who can re-hash an old domestic altercation. Suspend Burnett, force the Yankees to start someone else, thus improving their chances of winning.
  • Exercise the Bartman Clause – Ever think back to the Bartman incident and think, “Hey, that would have been an out if it were the other team.”? Be it financial or something else, find a way to entice Detroit fans to reach over the wall. If they snag a ball out of play off a Tiger’s bat, then it’s an out. If a Yankee player hits it, give him a do over. This would really give New York a fair unfair advantage.
  • Humidor in the Yankee clubhouse – Oh man, this one makes David Stern drool! Unfortunately for him, it’d be impossible to make each team play with two different balls. Otherwise, he’d have done it in a heartbeat. In baseball, it can be pulled off. If I am Tigers player, I’m making sure to grab a ball while I’m at bat, and also grab one in the field, and then run scientific tests on it afterward. No big league player is going to do that though, so this move could be easily pulled off undetected.
  • Call more fouls – I know there’s no fouls in baseball (aside from foul balls), but one thing the NBA is really good at is star treatment. Fouls on Lebron James aren’t fouls on Lou Amundson. Let’s do the same thing in Major League Baseball. It’s true that supertstars already get special treatment. Look no further than Derek Jeter’s final at-bat last night in the 9th inning. Valvered threw a pitch for a ball that would have undoubtedly been called strike three against 99% of player. But let’s take it a step further. Let’s penalize other players for imeding the stars’ performance. Remember when A’s pitcher Dallas Braden told Alex Rodriguez to stay the f*** off his mound? Toss him! It’s the postseason now. The stakes are higher. If Porcello comes inside on Cano, throw him out of the game! There’s a good chance you can get Leyland out of there too.

Are the Twins the New Braves?

Chappy brought up a good point the other day. The Minnesota Twins are the new Atlanta Braves. The Braves gained notoriety for not just winning 14 division titles in 15 years, but only winning ONE World Series during their run of domination. The Twins aren’t quite on that level, but they are starting to put together quite a streak of postseason futility. Being an A’s fan, I can’t say I don’t know what it feels like, but with today’s ALDS series loss to the Yankees, that makes 5 LDS losses in the last 8 years. What’s worse is they only have TWO wins to their name during that stretch. This is their third consecutive time being swept in the LDS, including one at the hands of the Oakland Athletics in 2006. They seem to have their nucleus locked up for a few years to come, but will they ever taste postseason success? Much like the A’s, their defeats seem to come often at the hands of the Yankees. You can’t help but feel like they’re destined to reach the playoffs year after year, only to be tossed aside by whichever team draws them in the opening round. But hey, most can only hope for a taste of the postseason. I can appreciate the Twins’ low-budget success. But really, I can’t help but think they’re the Braves of this era.

Is That the Giants Headed for the MLB Postseason?

It’s usually not a smart idea to post about a team returning to the playoffs when they haven’t clinched yet, but I’m an A’s fan, so if the Giants meltdown and fail to make the playoffs, I won’t shed any tears. At any rate, I’ve got to admit I’m a little excited about the black and orange returning to the postseason for the first time since they blew the 2003 World Series to the Anaheim Angels. Now, they’d have to get swept this weekend by the Padres to force a one game playoff for the division, but the way the two teams are playing right now, that doesn’t seem likely. So let’s assume the “G-men,” as the much maligned announcing duo of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow call them, hold off the Pads to win the NL West. Contrary to Chappy’s sentiments, I’m pretty excited for the MLB Playoffs this year – on the NL side at least. The Phillies are pretty much a perennial postseason favorite at this point, but if things hold the way they are, we’ll see the return of the Giants, the Atlanta Braves, and most refreshingly, the Cincinnati Reds.

In all likelihood, the Giants will open the first round at home against the Braves, which should be an exciting series. Remember that the Giants knocked off the Braves in the first round in 2003 on their way to a World Series berth. But SF has the makings of a pretty dangerous playoff team. The pitching staff is unparalleled, led by Tim Lincecum of course. Throw in guys like Matt Cain, a revitalized Barry Zito, and quite possibly the hottest pitcher in the rotation, Jonathan Sanchez, and you can’t figure them to give up many runs. On the offensive side, though not the most dangerous lineup on paper, the Giants are ridiculously deep. It’s a huge collection of guys that can come through with the big hit at any given time. Buster Posey, Jose Guillen, Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, Edgar Renteria, Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, Mike Fontenot, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand….. I could go on for days. I guess I’ll put away all my green and gold and break out that one Giants shirt I have for the next few…. weeks, hopefully.

Marco Scutaro Signs With the Much Maligned Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox and SS Marco Scutaro agreed to a two year deal this morning, making Scutaro the team’s new shortstop – a position that’s been somewhat of a hole for the club in recent years. It’s unfortunate to see one of my favorite players go to my least favorite team, but I’m happy for him to get the opportunity to be an everyday player on a contending team.

In honor of Scutaro’s deal, we’re going to revisit his greatest career moment, and probably the greatest moment I ever witnessed, in person, in my career as a professional sports fan. Back in 2006, the Oakland A’s won the American League West division title, and earned a first round matchup with the Twins. The Twins had home field advantage, and many predicted the A’s would leave Minneapolis down 0-2 in the series. Scutaro had a key RBI in each of the first two games. Game 3 was out here in Oakland. After an RBI double in the 2nd inning, Scutaro came to the plate with the bases loaded and 2 out in the bottom of the 7th. With a capacity crowd chanting his name in unison, Scutaro fell behind 1-2, and then cleared the bases with a drive down the right field line, sending the Coliseum faithful into a frenzy – and me almost over the railing down into the first deck. That hit put the game out of reach, as the A’s now had an 8-2 lead, and ultimately sealed the Division Series sweep for the A’s.

A Night Angels Fans Will Never Forget

This is the Angels window.... shutting.

This is the Angels' window.... shutting.

Sure, I’ve called myself Nostradamus before.  It’s too bad our blog is so young, because I’d love to go back and audit all my predictions, such as declaring Jamarcus Russell a bust when the Raiders selected him first overall.  However, since we can’t talk about the past, allow me, if you will, to explain what’s going to be set in motion tonight.  The Angels will lose another post season series, this time at the hands of a tremendously overpowering Yankees squad.  I’m not just predicting a loss, though.  I’m predicting the beginning of the end for the Anaheim Angels current “dynasty.”  Much like Sacramento Kings fans will remember Chris Webber’s fateful knee injury during their Western Conference Semifinal series against Kevin Garnett’s Minnesota Timberwolves as the moment that kicked off the demise of the Sacramento Kings, the conclusion of the Angels’ season tonight will trigger a downward spiral for years to come.

At the center of the issue is the decline of Vladimir Guerrero.  Although he’s only 34, he looks like Wilfred Brimley stepping to the plate.  The Angels will have to address the issue of whether or not he’s going to continue to be the man in Orange County.  As a result, if you take Vlad out of that lineup – or perhaps even if you leave him in there – the offense looks pretty suspect.  It remains unclear, also, if Bobby Abreu will be in their plans.  Across the infield, Howie Kendrick appears to have hit his ceiling, and Chone Figgins can’t be getting any faster.  Kendry Morales should be a mainstay at first, but I don’t see him having a Tim Salmon-like career in Anaheim.  There are no question marks when it comes to the pitching staff, however, as Lackey, Saunders, Santana, Kazmir, and Weaver should hold down the rotation for years to come. And although the organization is usually deep on pitching, there’s a lack of offense in the Angels’ system right now.  Once a heralded prospect, Brandon Wood has pretty much settled into the role of AAAA star.

Vlad takes a breather between pitches.

Vlad takes a breather between pitches.

What I envision happening tonight, on a greater scale, is a fan base realizing that their team has already peaked, and won’t remain in contention much longer.  Unless they bring in a few big ticket names next season, which I’ll admit is a possibility, fans won’t have much to be excited about, knowing their window is all but shut.  Let’s be honest, how many Angels fans even existed before 2002?  Although it can be said that owner Arte Moreno’s deep pockets will keep the team competitive, waning attendance could prove too much for the franchise to handle.  I’m not saying the Angels are going to fold in the next few years, but just don’t expect to see them in the same position they are tonight for a while.

UPDATE: I really didn’t see the Angels hanging on in this one. Check back here next game.

Previewing the LCS

Wow, that was fast!  Three sweeps and a 3-1 series and all of a sudden it’s time for the LCS.  I was primed and ready to watch some Game 1’s tonight, BUT, there are none!  I guess that’s what happens when the first round is such a dud.  I’m disappointed to see the Angels in the LCS, but at least it came at the expense of the Red Sox, who laid an egg and furthered their return to postseason incompetence.  The Rockies looked like they were going to make it a series, but Huston Street reverted back to his Oakland postseason days and blew another series.  That leaves us with four teams fighting for the crown.  Let’s take a look at the matchups….

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers.  Game One: Thursday, 5:07pm Pacific Time

The Dodgers are the beneficiaries of the coveted extra rest after sweeping Matt Holliday’s nuts and the Cardinals.  The question mark, however, hovers around Clayton Kershaw, the starter for game 1. Kershaw was solid this season, but you can’t help but wonder about a rookie pitching game 1 of the LCS.  It’s a high risk high reward move for Joe Torre that could – emphasis on could – pay huge dividends for his squad.  The Dodgers have yet to use Chad Billingsley as a starter, but Torre will nonetheless give the ball back to his rookie to face off against Cole Hamels.  The Phillies appear to have the advantage on paper, solely based on the pitching matchup, but both teams are heading in with a healthy dose of momentum.  We know the Dodgers offense will put up 3-5 runs per game, so the key will be whether the Phillies score 10 to win or 1 and take the loss.  It should be a tight series – I see the Dodgers escaping in 7.  Should it be a shorter series, look for the Phillies to take it in four or five.

Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees. Game One: Friday, 4:47pm Pacific Time

I don’t know what to hope for in this series.  It’s probably my two least favorite teams outside of Boston, but, had the Red Sox been in this series at least I’d know who to root for.  Being an A’s fan, I’m sure when the puck is dropped, I’ll find myself rooting for the Yankees.  But that doesn’t really affect what goes on on the field now does it?  My guess is, since both of these offenses are pretty capable, this series will come down to pitching.  The Yankees are going to a three man rotation with Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte.  Critics are, well, criticizing this move, which is wearing pretty thin on me, considering it used to be standard practice.  New York has plenty of arms in their bullpen so even if CC, AJ, or AP can only go five or six, they should be just fine.  The biggest red flag in this series seems to be Anaheim’s young pitching in the new Yankee Stadium.  We know John Lackey is a son of a bitch and won’t be bothered by the New York crowd – but he might pitch like shit.  If the Angels don’t win the first game of the series, it’d be unfathomable for Weaver or Saunders to pony up and carry the team.   I’m thinking Yankees in 5, and worst case scenario… Yankees in 6.

Is This Really Necessary?

I’m sitting here at my desk at work going nuts listening the Tigers-Twins game… what could be better?!  Oh yeah, watching the game at home on TV with a beer.  Why does the one game tiebreaker always have to be a day game?  I get it… the winning team needs time to travel.  But seriously, they know they’re going to New York, and the NL playoffs are both scheduled for tomorrow already.  SO, why not let this be a night game?  I mean, think about it, even the East Coast had to miss the beginning of the game.  There’s no reason this game should be played where only a fraction of fans can watch.  Now that this one-game playoff tiebreaker is an every year thing, perhaps it’s time MLB took a look at how to best capitalize on this.  Now, back to AM radio I go!